I was recently reading one of our industry magazine and I came across an article about promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our communities. One of the writers, Lallis A.C. Jackson, who is an AMS and PCAM wrote an article on Sense and Sensitivity. Now, more than ever, an influx of people from all over the world reminds me that we are not all the same in the way we think, the ways of our culture, how we speak or even how we feel about things in our community. This is the perfect time to remind us to think about our differences more than our sameness.
Below is the article that Ms. Jackson wrote:
"Many years ago, before I entered the community management profession, I was on the board of my condominium. We had a family that took out the vegetation on an exterior path in front of their unit, leaving only dirt. Having the path look that way was normal to them, but what they didn't know was that it was a common area and not part of their property to change.
The board had the homeowners come to a meeting so they could have a better understanding of our rules, but it bothered me that some of the other board members lacked sensitivity to the fact that they came from another country - and were almost angry about it. That's what prompted me to realize that many people aren't aware of the different cultures that live together in community associations and the need for sensitivity, respect, and understanding.
When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the lack of sensitivity to the existence of cultural differences - both in communities and in the workplace - leads to misconceptions, stereotypes, and false characterizations. When you understand where someone comes from and how they might have grown up with different understandings and norms, it generates respect. The willingness to learn more about those differences creates progress, ignoring them, thinking they're not important, or believing they don't exist fosters conflict.
Cultural Sensitivity is important when training our employees and boards. It is important for them to feel included but to also have them understand that there are others in the community that may not look, think or act like themselves but that it doesn't make them less important as a part of the community and staff.